Lion's last roar scores as 'Horror' remake scares up $23 mil

This article was updated at 4:32 p.m.

No remodeling was necessary in “The Amityville Horror,” as MGM’s homeowner frightfest — the studio’s last wide release — scared up $23.3 million from 3,323 theaters. Horror pic was co-produced by Dimension.

Overall biz continued to be slack, marking the second week in a row that B.O. has been under $90 million and off more than 20% from last year.

Last week’s champ, Bristol Bay Prods. and Paramount’s “Sahara,” showed some legs, dropping 28% to $13.1 million and lifting cume to $36.4 million.

In third place was 20th Century Fox’s “Fever Pitch,” also in its second week, with $8.8 million, off 29% from its opening. Cume on the Drew Barrymore-Jimmy Fallon baseball romancer is $23.9 million.

Dimension’s “Sin City” drew $6.7 million, good for the fourth spot. Though the Robert Rodriguez pic took the heftiest drop in the top 10, at 53%, comicbook adaptation has racked up $61.3 million through its third weekend.

Finishing out the top five was Sony’s Ashton Kutcher-Bernie Mac laffer “Guess Who” with $4.9 million, down 30%. Cume is $57.6 million.

Keeping a firm grip on the top 10 is New Line’s “The Upside of Anger,” which placed 10th again this week with $1.9 million. Kevin Costner-Joan Allen romancer played 1,166 venues in its sixth week; cume is $15 million.

MGM distrib prexy Erik Lomis said of the “Amityville” remake: “We’re very happy with the number. The picture outgrossed its negative costs almost in two days.”

Continuing a trend established with “The Ring,” “The Grudge” and, most recently, “The Ring Two,” femmes continued to fuel frightener biz.

MGM exit polls showed the audience was 56% female and 62% under age 25. Lomis said all told, women between 17 and 25 made up 37% of the pic’s opening-sesh aud.

Though “Amityville” is rated R, debut compared well with the year’s crop of horror pics, including “Boogeyman” (which bowed with $19 million), “Hide and Seek” ($22 million) and “White Noise” ($24 million).

Paramount distrib topper Wayne Lewellen said the sturdy second week bodes well for “Sahara.”

Since the opening on the PG-13 pic skewed older than 25, Lewellen said the Matthew McConaughey adventure film has plenty of room to grow. “The playability of the picture is good. Families or anyone can go see it,” Lewellen said. Second sesh was boosted by the fact that the frame’s new entry played younger, he added. “There wasn’t much competition coming into the market.”

Produced on a budget that topped out well over $100 million, footed by the Anschutz Film Group, pic needs a leggy domestic run as well as strong showings overseas to head toward a profit.

With two weeks to go before Hollywood starts its summer sked, the year’s total box office stands at $2.243 billion, 5% off last year’s mark through this point.

Sluggish spring

While the early part of the year got off to a strong start with big biz from Christmas holdover “Meet the Fockers” and early February smash “Hitch,” the spring has been sluggish at the wickets.

While 2005’s spring numbers were bound to slip because of last year’s aberration with “The Passion of the Christ” (after opening last year on Feb. 25, it had grossed $361 million through the third weekend of April), it appears some of this season’s slack is due to weak perfs among holdovers.

For instance, last year’s comparison frame was led by the $25.1 million opening of “Kill Bill Vol. 2″ and the $13.8 million debut of “The Punisher,” which is fairly comparable to the grosses put up by “Amityville” and “Sahara.” But last year, the dropoff through the rest of the top 10 was much more gradual, with “The Passion” claiming the No. 10 spot with $4.1 million.

According to this weekend’s estimates, only the top five films took in more than $4 million, with 10th place going to “The Upside of Anger” with $1.9 million.

In the limited arena, Sony Pictures Classics’ “Kung Fu Hustle” continued to do impressive biz on its first seven screens. In its second week, pic collected $264,043, down just 10% from its opening, and averaged $37,720 per screen. Sony Classics will launch the Stephen Chow martial arts pic, which has cumed $639,085, in more than 2,000 venues this Friday.

Among the newcomers, Lions Gate’s “House of D,” David Duchovny’s first foray as a helmer, picked up a sturdy $30,000 from its first two screens. On Wednesday, Lions Gate also released gangster yarn “State Property 2″ on 202 screens and saw results of $1.1 million, with $750,000 coming during the three-day span. Pic averaged $3,713 per engagement.

Spelling it out

Also opening was Todd Solondz’s “Palindromes,” for which Wellspring reported $61,434 from seven screens, an average of $8,776 per engagement. Since it opened on Wednesday at the Angelika in Gotham, pic has taken in $72,234.

Fine Line opened its Yao Ming basketball doc “The Year of the Yao” with $26,000 from 12 screens, an average of $2,167 per screen.

Among the holdovers, Sony Classics’ “Look at Me,” now in its third week, did $149,677 from 25 screens, averaging $5,987 and pushing cume to $401,542.

Tartan’s Korean import “Oldboy” continued a steady U.S. run with $90,004 in its fourth frame, advancing cume to $304,504. Playing at 25 sites, pic averaged $3,600.

“Walk on Water,” distribbed domestically by Samuel Goldwyn and Roadside Attractions, crossed the $1 million mark in its seventh week with $128,250 from 45 screens, for an average of $2,850. Cume is $1,044,832.

Woody Allen’s “Melinda and Melinda” managed to just get past $3 million in its fifth week, with Fox Searchlight reporting weekend grosses of $445,000 from 302 screens, an average of $1,474.

‘Millions’ more

Showing more legs is Searchlight’s “Millions” from helmer Danny Boyle. Now in its sixth week, pic grossed $685,000 from 251 screens, averaging $2,729. Cume is now just under $3 million.

In its second week, Warner Independent’s triptych pic “Eros” earned $30,401 from 16 screens, averaging $1,900 and pushing cume to $119,024.

IFC’s “Dust to Glory,” grossed $115,194 from 51 screens in its third frame, averaging $2,259 and lifting cume to $260,328.

In its 19th week of release, ThinkFilm’s Oscar winning doc “Born Into Brothels” passed the $3 million mark this frame. Playing 80 screens, pic grossed $102,956 this weekend, an average of $1.287 per engagement. Of its cume, $2.3 million has come since it claimed the statuette on Feb. 27.

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